Sir Victor Etefia, is the senior special assistant, (SSA) to the state governor on petroleum matters as well as the champion of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in Ikono Local Government Area.
In this interview with, head political desk, ETEBONG AKAPN,the petroleum magnet speaks extensively on the recent defections of ward officers of the party in the area to the Young Progressive Party (YPP) and how it will affect the fortunes of PDP in the area.
Recently, your local government area has been in the news due to pockets of defections of leaders of your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at that level, what really is happening there?
PDP has consistently won Ikono from inception in 1999. In 2010 and 2011, when we felt that we were not comfortable with the person that brought the party to Ikono, the whole stakeholders came and pleaded with me to take up the challenge and I took up the challenge on the platform of Labour Party. As a political scientist and as somebody that is financially stable and understands the political terrain of Ikono, but at the end I could not make it. So what you are seeing now cannot in any way be compared to what we had in 2010. This one, people are trying to see if they can use the social media to be politically relevant. Let me also say this, in Ikono Local Government Area, we are the pace setter when it comes to this issue call politics. Zoning started in Ikono, we have been in zoning right from the days of TABASS ACCORD.
What does it mean?
That was when the entire stakeholders of Ikono, the owners of the local government sat down as far back as in 1980s and consider the zoning, the geopolitical arrangement of Ikono that are like a tribe to be zoned for a particular period of time after which another zone will go, and that has been our arrangement and our standard, but unfortunately all this juvenile politicians who felt that their ambition is so inordinate to the extent that they can even kill their father/ mother or kill anybody to achieve what they want. They could not consider the standards and conventions that have been set. You can also blame the leadership that allowed itself to be compromised at the expense of the community. The fallout of this weak leadership is the cause of the current confusion among a misguided few in Ikono. So the age-long zoning arrangement in Ikono was tampered as a result of weak leadership but thank God people like us have stepped in to restore normalcy by saying enough is enough.
Who do you blame for this weak leadership?
Of course leadership is a relay race, and whether you like it or not you must handover to the other person. Maybe when it was your time, when the stick was in your hand while you were running the race you were not able to calvanize the entire structure and take charge and be able to implement the decision of the people. That can amount to weakness. Then, when eventually the stick gets to my hand, the very first thing I considered was that we should reactivate the zoning arrangement that has been in place for over 20 years, so a lot of people were affected, and when they considered themselves being too popular, too powerful, too financially strong may be to test their popularity and strength and test their financial strength, so be it , we will meet in the battle field, if money can buy the conscience of the people , what people are known for, so that is the situation.
You mention conscience; does it really exist in Akwa Ibom politics?
Of course it does. If it doesn’t we will not collectively say that Uyo Senatorial District is the next to produce the governor of the state. It does, you know people don’t know there is God and they don’t seem to understand a supreme being superintends over the affairs of men. Most of the things that happens on earth, have already happened in the realm of the spirit. I remember last dispensation when Uyo people attempted to struggle with Eket Senatorial District, in spite of all what they thought they had, they could not make it. The thing still went to Eket Senatorial District and now it is the turn of Uyo, and you come out to struggle with them, so the gods of the land and the conscience of the people and what people believe they are will not allow you to have your way. Take for instance in Ikono Local Government, in 1993, we started the zoning arrangement, and then when Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency was eventually created, we had that understanding that Ikono will take the first turn of eight years which Ikwo Minima did. Ikwo attempted a third term after eight years we rejected her at the PDP primary and the entire state structure of the party stood by us and she lost the election, but surprisingly, her name surface as the candidate of the party for the election. As a people we decided that we have to sustain our position and then advised one of our sons, Prof Ini Udoka to stand for the election on another party platform. PDP lost that election in Ikono/ Ini federal constituency to drive home our points of maintaining the zoning arrangement that was on ground. The ongoing noise is not a new thing to us in Ikono but this particular one is not the same scenario. What you are hearing today is an individual considering himself big and rich enough to cook for the community and not the community cooking for him. The first scenario was that the entire community decided to cook for Ini Udoka against Ikwo Minima but this particular scenario is an individual trying to see himself as he can cook for the people because he has money. We will see if an individual can suppressed the wish of the community.
Is this zoning arrangement peculiar to the federal constituency seat or does it draw down to other elective positions in the area?
Of course, otherwise Mr Asuquo Nana Udoh would have returned to the House of Assembly on the PDP platform but hecannot return because they brought in a grammar which we consider fraudulent. A grammar that was deceptive in nature but was used to favour him in 2019 because the chairmanship was already in where the Assembly seat was supposed to rotate to.And then when I came on board, I had to challenge that grammar because I knew that it is a grammar that could create problem and tension that has potential that can disorganize a very harmonious society, I had to challenge the grammar and said no, there was an understanding that after Ikono South the thing has to return to Ediene Itak and it was the turn to return to Ediene Itak that grammar came. But the governor and the leader of the party was not making mistake, maybe Itoro Columba then was the council chairman from the zone of Ediene Itak and then maybe it would have been too much for the zone to have had the council chairman and the member of the House of Assembly and then that grammar streamlining emerged and whenever that grammar was vacated we had no option than to return to the status quo for peace because the word streamlining was becoming offensive to Ikono people.
Does it mean that some other person from his zone has already been in the House of Assembly?
Of course, Dr Bassey took that turn for eight years and after him, Ikono South where I came from took for eight years through Victor Udofia, after Udofia it was now left for Ediene Itak zone to also take their turn but that grammar came within that period. But now that word has no value, you know anything that the foundation has problem will always fail. It can only hang around briefly but the zoning thing is a serious foundation that can take you to any level, so zoning become a superior word and a superior argument.
Now you have seen some defections in certain areas of Ikono, Nkwot mostly, what do you think is responsible for this as party executives at the grassroots are very important for the general election?
Everybody is important during the general elections and as I told you before, election has phases. The party executives were indispensable at the primary election phase because some of them were e statutory delegates. That was when the party structure was so important. We have passed that stage and nowwe are in the phase where people that have electoral value are important. For them not being delegates in the last primaries was not the fault of the governor. It was the fault of their representatives in the National Assembly who blindly passed a bill they never gave a thorough look into law. They even excluded themselves from voting for themselves in an election where most of them were aspirants. That was just to show their level of ignorance of legislative duties.
How do you determine who have electoral value in acommunity apart from those with PVCs?
Of course, integrity will come in, who you are in the society, if you are a businessman like I was before I participated in government, how many people have you hired, how many people have you assisted, how many people have you supportedand how many people have you employed, these are what that constitute the value I am talking about. It is not just about uncoordinated grammar on the social media. It is not about blackmailing people and trying to smear people’s character; we are talking about people who can go to their villages and stay for one week without their people asking them why they are there. . We know there are a lot of people that lack value in their community, so when they come to Uyo they talk the way they like and become urban guerrillas and claim to be this and that. Let them go to their villages and prove their mettle. Elections are conducted at polling units and from my experience and education; I have never seen a polling unit on the social media or even the conventional media. It is always at the polling units and most polling units are in the villages. Even the township you live in is somebody’s village which you can never claim as a politician because all politics is local.
Moreover, some of the defections you see or hear have fetish connotations.
Can that allegation be substantiated?
I don’t need to, but we all know what is happening. I seem to be a victim because one of the boys that I considered my loyalists are in that mess because of a little porridge. Most of them will return to the PDP as it is usually the case after the elections. For now they can’t really help it.
Do you think you will be able to convince Ikono People to vote for PDP in the general elections?
Sure! I have told you already that Ikono is PDP and PDP is Ikono. What is happening is a normal distraction in a democratic setting. The so called YPP or APC are vital ingredients for competition. Election is competition. When that time comes, we will keep our score cards on the table and tell you to bring yours. We will campaign on records and not utopian promises. You did not just jump to YPP today. You were formally in PDP and you have benefitted enough. Why do you get angry when the party told you to give room for your brother to also benefit?
Can you point out to one thing that the current government in the state has done for Ikono that will make you root for PDP again?
We have never had it so good in this state like in this administration. Remember, we have had a governor in this state from my senatorial district for eight years that never gave Ikono a single kilometer of road. But this government has done so well with more things coming. I believe the incoming PDP governor,Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, will do even more for us. I see him as a perfect gentleman who has the vision and the temperament to take the Akwa Ibom development master plan to another level.
What are the chances of PDP in the 2023 presidentialelection?
It is only those who have not felt what APC that is, that are stilltalking about it. 2023 is damned too bright for PDP because Nigerians have regretted the calamity they brought on themselves in the name of APC. So I doubt if northerners will even vote for APC again. They have been so disappointed that they will vote massively for the PDP with the single consolation that at least under the PDP they were able to move freely without fear of being kidnapped or being attacked by bandits.The scale of corruption in the country today cannot be measured and even the fuel subsidy that they claimed was a scam under PDP is today in trillions. Nigerians have had enough.
Any message for Ikono people
They should remain steadfast and not be distracted.